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Hawken accuracy problem

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I’ve always liked Pillow Ticking. It creates an excellent gas seal.

I prefer a thick lube vs. a liquid, especially for hunting. I have arthritis in my hands so use it pretty much exclusively because I find that it goes down easier.

I experimented with T-7 in my side-lock percussion rifles but couldn’t get any consistency. Right or wrong, I determined that it wasn’t meant for the type of guns I was shooting. It burns hotter so it needs to be reduced by 15%. I once fired at a gong with a 54 caliber and 70 grains of T-7, 3F. Not only did I dent the metal, but I broke the chain it was hanging from!

If your load is too hot, it could be burning your patches. That would explain why you’re all over the place. 25 yards may be close enough to strike the target but then be a total miss at 50. I’d use something thicker or add a backup patch or wad.

I used Pyrodex P for years. When I moved from SoCal back to Oregon, I couldn’t get any groups. I don’t know whether it had anything to do with the change in Latitude. I switched to real BP and accuracy improved immensely. I’ve been using that ever since.

Good Luck!

Walt
 
Unless you just have to use patched round balls for the hunt try some bullets. If you want to prove that the gun and you can shoot try some sabots for a quick session and when you see the 1 hole group then go back to the round ball and find the problem. My guess is it fits too loose and the charge is high. Not a good combo.
 
The ball is lead, bought at the local sporting goods store. The regulations don't require a lead ball, they require a "lead projectile" which I guess means that I can try a bullet.
I will let the experts chime in on the bullet because I have never used them. A lead ball from the sporting goods store is usually pure lead and that should be sufficient for your local regulations. A ball is just as much a projectile as a bullet. My recommendations fall with several other posts regarding the patch thickness. Measure the diameter of the bore from the grooves to get the groove depth. Measure the ball (I believe you stated .490). Take the difference between the groove diameter and the ball and divide by 2. The difference should give you an idea of the minimum patch thickness. If the patch you are using is too thin you will likely get on paper at 25 yards but it won't have enough or any spin to be accurate beyond that.
 
Yes the patch and ball combination needs to be changed for starters. I shoot Triple 7 almost exclusively these days. I also use a larger size ball and patch this .005 patch. I also use Shenandoah Patch lubricant from Midway. Also I would put a new crown on the muzzle of the barrel if the patch/ball combinations dont improve. Also over time the combustion area of the breech becomes worn and allows gas to escape around the patching until the ball gets into a less worn area of the barrel. This is a simple fix by adding cotton ball filler ontop of your powder charge. This will place the ball a little further up the barrel. Some folks will see an improvement in accuracy by increasing the powder charge. This just moves the ball position further up from the fire eroded area of the breech area in the barrel. I suspect going to a thicker patch with the same ball size will improve 50 yard accuracy. And for that I highly recommend the Shenandoah Valley patch lube.
 
I have a Pedersoli, Hawken 45 caliber rifle. I increased my accuracy after playing with different powder charges, different sized round balls and different patches. At this point I am getting very good accuracy with 40 grains of Goex FFF, a .445 round ball, and .012 pillow tick patches. (This is for competition at 50 yards or less. Not a hunting load.) At a Rendezvous in May I tied for second place out of 30 shooters. In September I took second place out of 24 shooters. --- It took a while to determine what I am currently using. There may still be other options that I may find with more experimentation. --- I am 70 years old and have been shooting against many shooters who are 1/3 my age.
 
What Phil and Pete said.... Try a thicker patch. I have a similar make rifle in .54 and it likes a tight patch/ball combo. If that fails....try a .50 cal. maxi-ball or some short, .50 cal. mini.
 
Hello. I am new to muzzleloading and recently I picked up a used Hawken 50 caliber (Investarm, Italy). I'm trying to get ready for the Montana Heritage Hunt which is Dec. 9 to 18. Unfortunately I can't achieve any meaningful degree of accuracy beyond 25 yards. I'm using 60 to 70 grains of Triple 7 powder and shooting from a bench rest this rifle is all over the place at 50 yards. I'm sure that I'm doing something wrong but I'm not sure what the next steps are. The barrel looks good. I clean it religiously. I appreciate any advice!
I got a few Investarms Hawkens, and they are all great shooters. However, I got one in .54 that will shoot one hole groups at 50 yards at velocities lower than 1550 fps, but even a tiny bit above that threshold and it will literally not stay on a 55 gallon drum at that same distance. I struggled for years to get that gun to shoot before I realized that it simply will not handle any load above the stated velocity. It is now one of my favorite rifles, I shoot bottle caps at 50 yards with it. A lyman 57 receiver sight sure helped my old eyes with accuracy also. My other .54 Investarm Hawken, with the same barrel specs, will shoot well with anything you ram down the barrel. Every gun is unique, and externally identical guns can have completely different results with the same load. Try 60 grains (volume) of Pyro P or Swiss 3f, and a .015 patch using a .490 round ball. That will give a velocity right around 1550 fps, and has been an accurate load in every rifle I own. 60 or 70 grains of 777 is exceeding that 1550fps mark, and could be the reason for your poor results.
 
thank you. A friend just pointed out that MT regs stipulate that you use a "lead projectile" so a ball is not mandatory. I'm going to see if I can find that sized bullet
Hi Harley. I don't have the collected muzzleloading wisdom you have been offered here, but I do shoot quite a bit and you may be getting to the point of advice overload. All the advice is good, but you don't have much time to go through it all if you have a day job. That hunt is around the corner. It is possible that your rifle just won't shoot patched balls well. I have a rifle like that. You could try a box of 385 grain Hornady Great Plains bullets. They are almost always in stock at Sportsman in Kalispell [About 12 bucks for 20]. I would start at 60 grains t-7, 2f. If you want something a bit lighter and very good on deer, you could order some 240 grain Hornady PA Conicals. I really like those and have plenty in stock if you want to try some out. My rifles shoot them really well and they are killers. My load is 70 grains t-7, 2f. Same load with 3f works almost as well for me and could be better if you have difficult ignition. I live up the road towards Wf and could give you enough PA Conicals to figure out if they work in your rifle. I can also give you some progressively thicker patches to try with your round balls. Remember that the pure lead bullets have to be in contact with the rifling to be legal for the Montana Heritage Hunt. No sabots allowed. Send me a PM if you want. SW
 
Hi Harley. I don't have the collected muzzleloading wisdom you have been offered here, but I do shoot quite a bit and you may be getting to the point of advice overload. All the advice is good, but you don't have much time to go through it all if you have a day job. That hunt is around the corner. It is possible that your rifle just won't shoot patched balls well. I have a rifle like that. You could try a box of 385 grain Hornady Great Plains bullets. They are almost always in stock at Sportsman in Kalispell [About 12 bucks for 20]. I would start at 60 grains t-7, 2f. If you want something a bit lighter and very good on deer, you could order some 240 grain Hornady PA Conicals. I really like those and have plenty in stock if you want to try some out. My rifles shoot them really well and they are killers. My load is 70 grains t-7, 2f. Same load with 3f works almost as well for me and could be better if you have difficult ignition. I live up the road towards Wf and could give you enough PA Conicals to figure out if they work in your rifle. I can also give you some progressively thicker patches to try with your round balls. Remember that the pure lead bullets have to be in contact with the rifling to be legal for the Montana Heritage Hunt. No sabots allowed. Send me a PM if you want. SW
Hello, SW. Thanks for this very helpful advice! I did some shooting yesterday evening at Les Bauska with a friend. We started by using a soft rest (I've been using a simple wood rest with a V cut and no padding) and it immediately improved my ability to group at 25 and stay on paper at 50 (helpful note above from deerstalkert about harmonics!). We started at 50 grains and didn't see much difference up to 60. We cleaned the barrel 2 or 3 times while shooting a total of about 20 balls. We were using the round commercially lubed patches, not sure what thickness. I will go to Sportsman's today and look for the conicals; I really want to try them. How do I send a PM? Thanks for your kind offer!
 
READ YOUR PATCHES !
Excellent accuracy advice from several forum members.
Retrieving your fired patches will diagnose if you have a bore issue or are using the right or wrong patched round ball combination.

>Start by following fishmusic's advise to measure your bore specs to determine what PRB combination your rifle or pistol needs for optimum accuracy.

**The majority of all serious competitors I've shot with over the past 60+years own a 1"micrometer to measure compressed patch thickness & a 6" vernier caliper to measure bore & rifling depth & determine the correct PRB combo for their rifles & pistols.

During the period I was a serious competitor & long range hunter most took their micrometers to fabric stores to get the correct compressed thickness of pure cotton high density pillow ticking material, then washed the material one or twice to get the fabric stiffener out for easier loading.
I use Osborne Arch punches to cut my patches & place several folded layers of the material on top of a 1" thick plank of a nylon material I bought from a plastics supplier years ago. Can easily & inexpensively cut 1,000 patches in short order.

PATCH PACKING TIP; With a long needle & nylon thread run the needle through a stack of about 50 patches & tie a single knot at bottom of the thread to prevent lost patches & leave about 3" of thread at the top end to attach to the strap of your possibles bag.

After you have the correct PRB combo & powder charge you should expect optimum accuracy & tight groups.

PERCUSSION FIREARM TIP;
First thing I do with any newly acquired percussion firearm is to install a 'quality' nipple like Treso to obtain consistent pressures & velocities that are required to obtain consistent groups & accuracy.

NOTE; Many newer shooters tend to significantly overload their BP firearms. Overloading can negatively affect accuracy & increase fouling.
Back when I was instructing at the range I would demonstrate overcharges & patch problems by laying 20-30 ft of white butcher paper on the ground from the muzzle forward to catch all the unburned powder & patches.

If after all of the above has been addressed & your still getting cut-patches & poor accuracy you may have a sharp burr on the rifling. That can usually be removed with a few laps of fine 3M abrasive pad wrapped tightly around a smaller diameter ramrod cleaning jag or brass bore brush. A few extra laps where you feel drag should eliminate the problem areas.

If all of the above fails to produce tack-driving accuracy & consistency you will likely need to re-crown the muzzle.
If the muzzles' crown is uneven it will allow charge gasses to throw your prb or slug astray. You can do this yourself with the proper tools or have it done by someone knowledgeable.
Checkout forum member & Utube videos for tips on muzzle recrowning.
Happy trails,
Relic shooter
 
Hello, SW. Thanks for this very helpful advice! I did some shooting yesterday evening at Les Bauska with a friend. We started by using a soft rest (I've been using a simple wood rest with a V cut and no padding) and it immediately improved my ability to group at 25 and stay on paper at 50 (helpful note above from deerstalkert about harmonics!). We started at 50 grains and didn't see much difference up to 60. We cleaned the barrel 2 or 3 times while shooting a total of about 20 balls. We were using the round commercially lubed patches, not sure what thickness. I will go to Sportsman's today and look for the conicals; I really want to try them. How do I send a PM? Thanks for your kind offer!
 

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